By David M. Greenwald
It was a tragic shooting, as 24 year old Selma Police Officer Gonzalo Carrasco was shot and killed in the line of duty on Tuesday.
The Governor and Attorney General were quick to offer their condolences on Tuesday.
In a statement by the Governor, “Jennifer and I join all the family, friends and colleagues mourning the tragic loss of Officer Carrasco, who devoted his life to protecting his community. His tremendous bravery, dedication and sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
“I join Californians in mourning the tragic loss of Officer Carrasco, a dedicated public servant whose service represented the best of the California spirit,” said Attorney General Bonta. “On behalf of the entire California Department of Justice, I extend my condolences to Officer Carrasco’s family, community, and colleagues.”
But Fresno DA Lisa Smittcamp blasted the Governor and State Legislature in a press release on Tuesday.
She noted that the shooter, “is an admitted gang member and has been arrested for several felony offenses that were prosecuted by the Fresno County DA’s Office for charges related to robbery, weapons and drugs.”
The release said that he was arrested on March 2022, was sentenced to a five year, four month sentence, however, “because of laws passed in the last few years that give additional credits for time served in local jail, and other new laws which allow for arbitrary “accelerated time credits” upon entry to the prison system, his release date was set for August 23, 2022, a mere five months after his original sentence.”
“He was eventually released in late September 2022, and placed on Post Release Community Supervision when he should have been serving more time in prison,” Smittcamp said. “Today, Gov. Gavin Newsom and every legislator in the state of California who supports this over-reaching phenomenon they try to disguise as legitimate criminal justice reform, has the blood of this officer on their hands.”
She continued, “The Governor and certain members of the California legislature have created a warped system that allows active and violent criminals to receive arbitrary “time credits” in an effort to reduce the state prison population to reach their goals of closing more prison facilities.”
She continued, “Dangerous criminals are being released from our prison system by these accelerated and exaggerated time credits and numerous opportunities for early releases. When they get out, they are empowered to continue and intensify their violent behaviors, as they have not had enough consequences or treatment.
“They are released without significant punishment, rehabilitation programming, or educational opportunities. This madness is creating more victims and, furthermore, it is not serving people who are committing the crimes.”
San Luis Obispo DA Dan Dow treated in response, “I agree with Fresno County DA Lisa Smittcamp about the responsibility that lies with @GavinNewsom and the extreme left politicians in Sacramento who continually endanger Californians by authorizing and encouraging the early release of dangerous violent prisoners.”
He later tweeted, “DA Smittcamp is exactly right. @GavinNewsom and others in Sacramento are responsible and must be held accountable for the violent crimes being committed by prisoners released early because of soft on crime legislation that he supported that allows violent criminals early release.”
But advocates would point out that such attacks and focusing on such high profile cases – which may be exceptions is misleading and distorts the public discussion.
California has long had the highest recidivism rate in nation – well before any of these reforms were implemented.
According to a 2012 report by CDCR, “more than 65 percent of those released from California’s prison system return within three years. Seventy-three percent of the recidivist committed a new crime or violated parole within the first year.”
In 2011, following a court order, California began to undertake numerous corrections reforms “in hopes of reducing the prison population, maintaining public safety, and improving persistently high recidivism rates.”
A 2021 report from PPIC found that “Overall recidivism rates have declined for felony offenders. The share of felony offenders rearrested for any offense within two years declined somewhat from 68 percent to 66 percent over the four-year period. The two-year reconviction rate for any offense dropped substantially from 41 percent to 35 percent.”
Moreover, “Reductions in recidivism rates were largest for felony offenses.” And they fell sharply for “drug offenses.”
A Stanford study looking into the effectiveness of programs such as Male Community Reentry Program (MCRP) which found, “We find that, for offenders who participate in MCRP for at least seven months, MCRP decreases the likelihood of rearrest by eight percentage points, and for offenders who participate in MCRP for at least nine months, MCRP decreases the likelihood of rearrest by 13 percentage points and reconviction by 11 percentage points.”